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The Magic of Branding
By: Rod Ebright
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"The essence of magic is controlling the perception of the audience." — Doug Henning

Who doesn't love a great magic trick? Substitute the word "branding" for "magic" and Doug Henning's statement still holds true. But, wait a minute! Isn't it cynical and manipulative and unethical for advertisers to manage the public's view?

There are two answers:

YES, it's wrong — if you are unethical. If your intent is to deceive or defraud your audience, then you practice bad branding "magic."

But if your interest is in directing attention to the compelling (Amazing! Astounding! Fantastic!) aspects of your product, then the answer is NO, it’s not wrong. A little magic is just what you need.

Think about it. If you can determine what people see, then you can guide how people think about your product. This guides what they remember and what they tell their friends. This builds expectations and belief. Consider your marketing effort as a magic act.

Determine what you want your audience to see and think and feel. Those classic components of branding — differentiation and positioning — will certainly guide your presentation. And while staging is important (the showcasing of the "surface" elements — messaging, packaging, media, and so on), there can be nothing that diminishes the audience experience. Outstanding product quality, customer service, and other key business qualities are essential to positive perceptions.

Remember, like a magician who, after elaborate theatrics, pulls a raggedy stuffed bunny from his top hat instead of a live rabbit, the marketer who stages a dazzling ad campaign to deliver a disappointing product will end up with a disillusioned audience.

Amaze your friends and neighbors (and prospective consumers) with a dazzling presentation that ends with an astounding revelation (a great product) and — presto! —  you’ve become a magician.

You may even want to think about wearing a long black cape at work…

Copyright © 2011 Rod Ebright

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About the Author
Rod Ebright, Director of Marketing & Development at The Granted Wish Foundation, is a marketing communications strategist and creative director who also conducts workshops and retreats on the creative process. He conducts an annual three-day Creativity Retreat (October 12–14) in the Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio. You can connect with Rod at RodEbright.com and follow him on Twitter.
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